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Acne scars may be a skin problem, but it isn’t just skin deep. It may affect your self-esteem and everything that’s tied to it.

If you’re facing this kind of facial problem, it’s not too late to know more about them and explore your options in minimizing acne scars.

What causes acne scars?

Bacteria, dead skin cells, and excess oils can cause inflamed blemishes on your skin. The pores swell and may cause breakage of the skin. Typically, shallow lesions may heal quickly.

If the pore experiences deep breakage, the infection can spill out into the surrounding tissues. This factor results in the creation of deeper lesions.

As the skin aims to heal itself, it forms new collagen fibers. This mechanism doesn’t usually result in a smooth and flawless renewal of skin. This mishap creates various types of acne scars.

What are the different types of acne scars?

Free Smiling Teenager with Pimples Looking at Camera Stock Photo

Acne scars can be as mild as few patches or as horrible as a bunch of craters. However they look, it pays to know their forms for you to have an idea which treatment might suit you.

1. Macules

They’re flat and red spots caused by acne lesions. Macules can be visible for weeks and then fades on their own.

2. Skin discoloration

This skin problem is also called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Acne scars may leave the skin discolored.

3. Tissue scars

Also called keloids or hypertrophic scars, these scars are caused by the excess production of collagen in your skin. They may appear as enlarged and raised growths of tissues.

4. Loss of tissue

These are more common than raised tissue scars. They look like pits on the skin. Loss of tissue causes it. They’re also called Follicular Macular Atrophy, Ice-Pick Scars, Depressed Fibrotic Scars, Soft Scars, and Atrophic Macules.

What are the options for removing acne scars?

Acne scars may have ruined your self-esteem, but it’s not too late to know your dermatologically tested solutions in minimizing acne scars. These procedures can’t erase ‘everything, ‘ but they can reduce the problem that’s right on your face.

By: Jason Emer, MD

1. Dermabrasion

This scar removal treatment uses a high-speed brush or another instrument to reduce scars or minimize its depth.


  • Scarring
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Loss of skin color
  • Tissue damage
  • Infection

Preparing for the procedure

One week or so, Dermabrasion candidates should:

  • Stop taking certain medications, such as aspirin
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid certain skin care products
  • Avoid sun exposure

What to expect after the procedure

  • Several times a day, the treated area must be cleansed. Also, regular application of ointments and changing of dressing should also be observed.
  • Within five to eight days, new skin growth is expected.
  • Within six to eight weeks, the skin will start to fade to normal tones
  • Minimal pain and swelling from treatment may be experienced.

2. Micro-Dermabrasion

This procedure is less intensive than Dermabrasion. In this treatment, a dermatologist or aesthetician uses minute crystals instead of a high-speed brush to remove the surface skin. More than one treatment may be required. No downtime is needed.


  • Infection
  • Skin irritation

Preparing for the procedure

  • Patients who have experienced other skin procedures should consult their doctors before undergoing microdermabrasion.
  • For one to three days, avoidance of exfoliating creams must be observed.
  • Avoid sun exposure before the treatment.
  • Avoid waxing before the treatment.

What to expect after the procedure

The recovery time for Microdermabrasion is minimal. Patients should:

  • Keep new skin clean and moisturized
  • Application of anti-inflammatory creams or cold compresses is needed
  • Use a gentle cleanser
  • Avoid scratching or picking new skin
  • Avoid chemical solutions such as Glycols, Beta Hydroxyls, Retinols, and Benzyl Peroxides for one to two days

3. Chemical Peels

This treatment may help reduce the appearance of Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) around a healed acne lesion. It can also lessen the presence of shallow scars.

Chemical Peels should be performed by a doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner or spa aesthetician. This treatment involves the removal of the skin’s outer layer. It may give a smoother and more even appearance. The strength of the acid used may cause redness and may peel for a few days.


  • Scarring
  • Re-activation of cold sores
  • For women taking birth control pills, temporary or permanent change in skin color may be experienced

Preparation before the procedure

  • The patient must discuss skin condition and treatment goals with the doctor to know the intensity of chemical peel
  • Reveal any history of cold sores, scarring, or facial X-rays
  • Avoid any medications or supplements that can affect blood clotting like Ibuprofen, Aspirin and Vitamin E for 10 days before surgery
  • Avoid using medications such as Retin-A or Renova

What to expect after the procedure

  • The patient may encounter response like sunburn
  • Redness, trailed by scaling of the skin for about three to seven days
  • Swelling
  • Blisters may appear, covering the face. They’ll turn into dark colored and peel off within 14 days
  • Bandages may have to be worn over the treated areas for a few days
  • Chemical peel patients ought to dodge the sun for a while after the treatment
  • Light peels might be redone in one to four-week interims. Medium-profundity peels might be repeated each six to a year

4. Lasers

This treatment includes the use of a laser to remove the outer layer of skin. It may be used to contour areas of acne scars. It can also help in lightening the redness around healed acne lesions.

Whether an acne scar is flat or raised, different types of lasers might be used. Also, more than one laser treatment may be required for every type of laser used. Several days might be needed to heal.


  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Crusting
  • Discoloration
  • Infection

What to expect after the procedure

  • Cleanse the treatment area after the first 24 hours
  • Follow-up cleansing for four to five times a day
  • Application of petroleum jelly on treated areas may help in preventing scabs
  • Swelling for 24 to 48 hours after treatment may be experienced
  • Itch or sting may be felt during 12 to 72 hours after treatment
  • Healing typically takes around 10 to 21 days

Once the treatment area is fully healed, you should:

  • Only use oil-free make up for at least two to three months
  • Avoid sun exposure
  • Keep your new skin well-moisturized

5. Fillers

Fillers are especially for those that have experienced the crater-like appearance of skin. Substances like Collagen Fats and Hyaluronic acid may be used to ‘fill out’ the pits.

The skin eventually absorbs fillers. This factor means that filler injections should be repeated every few months. Repetition of the treatment may depend on the type of product used. For this treatment, no downtime for recovery is needed.


  • Allergic reactions might occur due to the injection of fillers

Preparing for the procedure

You should inform your doctor if you’re using any of the following:

  • Prescription medicines
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Herbal supplements

What to expect after the procedure

  • Bruising (may last for one week)
  • Swelling
  • Redness

6. Excision and Punch Replacement Graft

In excision, the doctor would cut into the skin to remove the acne scar. The wounds are closed with stitches.

In Punch Replacement Grafting, the doctor takes a skin graft from behind the ear. The graft will be used to fill in the acne scars.

What to expect after the procedure

  • You may not see immediate improvement
  • Wounds must be cleansed thoroughly
  • Bandages must be changed daily
  • On the first one to two weeks after treatment, bruising may occur

How much is an Acne Scar Removal Treatment?

The treatments may cost from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Also, it depends on the extent of treatment. Since most medical insurance considers these procedures as cosmetic treatments, they’re generally not covered.

How do you choose a doctor for Acne Scar Removal Treatment?

Only certified experts must perform Acne Scar Removal Treatments. Wrong administration of this treatment can lead to irreversible effects. Heed these factors that allow you to choose your doctor wisely.

  • Certification and Memberships. It’s a plus when the doctor is a certified member of an American Society of Plastic Surgeons or any dermatology society in the region. This factor elevates the credibility of a plastic surgeon you’re about to see.
  • Experience. The doctor must be well-aware of the risks and limitations of the Acne Scar Removal Treatment.
  • Reputation. One way to find your suitable cosmetic surgeon is by looking for a suggestion. If you know someone who underwent some of the treatments above, you can ask them. Check the doctor’s record for any misbehavior. This data might be made open by state restorative sheets.

Do Acne Scar Removal Treatments guarantee success?

The effectivity of the treatments may vary on the patient’s ability to maintain the procedures. Also, lifestyle and health may affect the occurrence of side effects.

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